Local mushers take to trails for first NKC race in 2016
On Saturday at noon, the Nome Kennel Club kicked off the 2016 sled dog racing season with its first race starting at the Greg Kruschek Avenue snow dump facility.
Seven local mushers guided their eight-dog teams over a 13.5-mile course that brought them up and over Gold Hill, across the Beam Road and around a loop near the Nome River. A fresh batch of snow helped soften a trail that had been hard as concrete the previous week.
“Just before the start, the freezing rain quit and the winds were calm,” said Race Marshal Chrystie Salesky. “It was in the upper 20’s, which is warm for the dogs, but all-in-all, it was a nice day for a race.”
The fastest to complete the course was Nils Hahn with a time of 1 hour, ten minutes, 20 seconds. He was followed by runner-up Kamey Kapp Worland who completed the course in 1:13:19.
“It wasn’t as fast as it usually is because we actually have snow out there for once,” said Worland after the race. “I took our powerhouses, knowing we would have powder.” Kapp Worland left the starting gate fifth and passed everyone except Hahn along the way.
Rounding out the field were Diana Haecker in third place with a time of 1:20:42, Curtis Worland in fourth, finishing in 1:21:16, Stephanie Johnson in fifth, completing the course in 1:22:42, Garrick Fuller in sixth with a time of 1:26:17, and Janet Balice placed seventh with a time of 1:41:24.
“This was my first real race,” said Fuller, who has been training Salesky’s dog team. “They did wonderful,” he said of his crew. “They ran faster than they usually do, and they competed really well. It was fun.”
The race had a $450 dollar purse which paid out as follows: Hahn, $120, Kamie Kapp Worland, $100, Haecker, $80, Curtis Worland, $60, Johnson, $40, and Fuller and Balice received $25 a each.
“All the teams looked great finishing,” said Salesky. “And the overall first race of the season was a success. I look forward to the upcoming races.”
The official timer for Saturday’s race was Annie Conger.
Saturday’s sprint was the first of a series of races this winter. The next race will take place February 13 and have a 12-dog limit, over a course of 30 miles. Other races scheduled are a two-day race on Feb. 27-28 with 30 miles each day and a 50-mile race planned for March 12. The 2016 NKC race season culminates in the running of the Nome-Council 200 Sled Dog race, an Iditarod qualifier, to be held on March 25-27. All races start at far end of the City of Nome snow dump facility on Greg Kruschek Avenue.